Prepare for unpredictable trade March – June (or maybe longer)

Local trade will be limited following Monday’s announcements over Social Distancing, in particular:

  1. Encouraging people not to visit public spaces such as theatres or pubs
  2. Encouraging everyone aged 70+ and other high risk groups to stay at home for the next 12 weeks.

Tourist trade is likely to be even more heavily restricted. Within the English Riviera we have already seen inbound international tourism, and coach trips of older tourists, dropping significantly.

There could well be further restrictions in the next few weeks. For example in several European countries many shops, cafes, restaurants have been forced to close.

All schools will be closing from Friday. This may have repercussions for staff availability, or potentially increase the number of customers during weekdays.

People who are able to work from home are being advised to do so.

At the peak of the virus experts say that 20% of a workforce may be off work on sick leave.

However, and particularly when the government guidelines are relaxed, younger visitors and families might be more likely to come to this area rather than going abroad. The ERBID research suggests that this kind of tourist is particularly drawn to wonderful outdoor views, dolphins, watersports, walking etc. – based in this area, we all have a wealth of this kind of imagery to use when advertising our businesses.

It is for every business to decide how to react to these difficult times. A number of local organisations have decided to close or modify their service. For example, but not limited to:

  • The English Riviera National Trust houses, visitor centres and cafes will close from Thursday afternoon.
  • Brixham Theatre is now closed.
  • Several cafes and restaurants (both independent and huge chains including McDonalds) have either closed, or restricted trade to takeaway only.

However many other local businesses have currently decided to continue trading, with precautions taken to reduce risk of spreading the virus.

If you would like to discuss your plans for your business, the Chamber could be one forum for you to get support and advice. If you contact we will see how we can help you.

This information has been collated by our exec team in the hope that it may be of use. We will update as we get further insights. If you would like to add to the debate please contact us.

Support from the government

In what is a fast moving situation, further to the business support measures announced by the Chancellor in March 11th’s Budget, on Tuesday 17th he went much further in the support being offered and provided by the UK Government:

  • Up to £330 billion of loans and guarantees to support businesses will be made available, hopefully from the start of next week. All businesses regardless of whether small, medium (SMEs) or large will be able to access loans backed by the Bank of England (if large) or the Business Interruption Loan Scheme (small or medium).
  • For SMEs, the loans available will be up to £5m from the £1.2m originally announced in the Budget last week, with the first 6 months of such loans being interest free.
  • To help with cash flow, grants of up to £10,000 will be available to approximately 700,000 of businesses that qualify for Small Business Rate Relief.

The hospitality, leisure and retail sectors have experienced a significant reduction in demand for their services, and so support measures aimed specially at these sectors include:

  • Regardless of their size, ALL hospitality, leisure and retail businesses in England will receive a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months
  • In addition, hospitality, leisure and retail businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 can receive a grant of up to £25,000.
  • Planning regulations will be relaxed to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing a takeaway service without a planning application.

We still await the specifics of how these measures will be delivered and will provide ongoing updates over the coming days.

The Chancellor also promised further support for employers to be announced in the coming days.

In addition, as announced in the Budget, Time to Pay arrangements are available for businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, should there be problems with cash flow and paying relevant taxes to HMRC. Any business that is concerned about the ability to pay any of their taxes in light of its current circumstances should contact HMRC. The helpline number is 0800 0159 559.

This information has been copied with permission from Thomas Westcott accountants (Brixham Chamber members)


Useful Links

The ERBID will be communicating some detailed plans later in the near future, including sector-specific information e.g. for accommodation providers.

The Chancellor will be announcing financial support measures for employers in the coming days.

For more detailed guidance and advice about coping with Coronavirus, please see the links below:

Business Continuity Helpline

BITC – Helping small business be ready for COVID-19

NHS health information and advice

Mind – Coronavirus and your wellbeing

Government guidance for employees, employers and businesses

World Health Organisation advice and links

General government guidance and links

MoneySavingExpert – Coronavirus, financial help and rights

British Chambers of Commerce advice and links

London Growth Hub – advice and links

FSB – advice to business

NatWest Business Hub – practical advice for SMEs

Harvard Business Review – Lead your business through the Coronavirus crisis

UK Hospitality – advice for hospitality businesses

British Independant Retail Association – advice

VisitBritain advice and links

How do I apply for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan?